Robyn Collier

Robyn Collier

Over the past 30 years I have travelled all over Australia, mostly venturing into places of difficult access. I have never been interested in cities but visiting our remote wild places has been a total privilege for me and an experience that has filled me with great awe of the breathtaking beauty that nature can present.

To be able to bring these experiences home and translate them on to canvas as an oil painting is always a great pleasure – helping me relive those special places and moments by bringing them to life again outside of my memory. My life has been richer for these visits and I count myself as very fortunate. I hope the people who own my paintings and those who have yet to own one, find similar feelings when they look at my work.

My painting career has been forged from a long, personal journey. I was brought up by parents who loved to bushwalk. My mother was attracted to snakes and there were often snakes in the home when I was young. Both parents were interested in making amateur movies and needless to say I was often taken out (unwillingly in many cases) at a very early age, to catch snakes or go bushwalking. Bushfires were also a source of great filming material for them, as were the rock-pools of the Royal National Park, where brightly coloured sea-slugs and fish used to abound. Sadly this is not the case any more. My childhood could also account for the fact that I was a snake-catcher for WIRES for about 6 years.

I believe this early childhood filled with nature is the reason I have gone on to enjoy the wilderness so much. As a child, I disliked the bush, yet now I am eternally grateful to that childhood spent with nature. I am sure it has had a great influence on who I am as a painter today and the reason I love these wild places so much.

At age eleven I went with my mother and her new husband to live in England, where the light was softer and the sun milder. Nine years later, I had the longing to be back in Australia and flew back just before my 21st birthday with my husband and two children. Whilst living in England, my father had become a very well known Sydney artist. No doubt influenced by his success, my desire to paint took hold on my return. I’ve had a brush in my hand ever since.

Over the years I have drifted into my own technique for painting. It is officially known as Alla Prima or ‘first attempt’, although I did not know for a long time that the way I painted had an official title. Instead of building colours with layers or glazes, the painting is completed while still wet. This can present a lot of problems for a larger work but I have learned to work section by section while it is still wet to retain the softness of line and the spontaneity of the Alla Prima approach.

My camera is an invaluable tool, as I visit areas usually too remote for me to carry heavy painting gear, or as in the case of the Burragorang Valley, simply not enough time to paint en Plein Air! The paintings in this exhibition have been created from various sources of reference material gathered from many visits to these very remote places: Karajini NP, Kedumba Valley, dunes of Western Australia and Antarctica to name but a few. I hope I have exposed the viewer to the beauty of some of these remote places and I trust those that own my paintings enjoy them as much as I enjoyed painting them.

Robyn Collier
March 2016

The Burragorang Valley, once a thriving rural community, was flooded in the 1950s to give Sydney a more permanent water supply. Families were forced to leave their homes and farms to make way for what is now known as Lake Burragorang, which is contained by the walls of Warragamba Dam.

Robyn was first invited to visit the Burragorang Valley in 1973, by The Metropolitan Water, Sewerage and Drainage Board. She was again invited for return visits and commissioned to paint a series of paintings featuring the catchment areas. These privileged visits into inaccessible lands of immense beauty provided the inspiration for two major exhibitions in the 1980s.

During the 1990s, Robyn ‘walked away’ from the Burragorang, taking up bushwalking and traveling to many remote parts of Australia. She has continued to paint Australia’s vast wilderness ever since.

In 2014, Robyn conceived the idea for a book on the Burragorang, where she could tell her story through paintings. Access to the valley had become even more restricted under current policies with both Sydney Catchment Authority (SCA) and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). Undeterred, Robyn was granted permission and support by key people and managed several visits during the past three years, including by boat, to produce a series of new paintings.

New Book – Burragorang ‘The Lost Valley’

Paintings from Burragorang ‘The Lost Valley’ comprises a 168 page book, with 68 full-colour plates, including the 43 Burragorang exhibition paintings. The book includes a foreword by former politician and environmentalist Bob Brown, together with an in-depth introduction by renowned historian Jim Smith.